SAN SALVADOR - Nine former soldiers in El Salvador's army have surrendered to authorities, three months after their indictment in Spain for the 1989 killings of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter during the country's 12-year civil war.

The ex-military members turned themselves in at a military base Aug. 8 and were transported to a Salvadoran court, the government said.

They were among 20 former soldiers indicted by a Spanish court for their role in the deaths on the campus of the University of Central America in the Salvadoran capital, where the priests taught and lived.

Five of the priests were Spanish. Spain's courts have used the principle of international jurisdiction to prosecute the killings.

Knights called to foster Christian unity, carry out new evangelization


DENVER - The archbishop of Quebec told members of the Knights of Columbus gathered in Denver for their convention he hoped they would be transformed, just as the first disciples had been transformed at the Transfiguration.

"The Gospel reminds us that 'Jesus took with him Peter, James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain ... and he was transfigured before them,'" said Archbishop Gerald Cyprian Lacroix, quoting from the Gospel of St. Matthew.

"This year the Lord has led us up a high mountain to the Mile High City -- Denver, Colorado -- for a very special experience; hopefully a  transfigurating experience," he said.

Archbishop Lacroix, who also is the primate of Canada, was one of three speakers at the Knights' States Dinner Aug. 2. The others were Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez of Guadalajara, Mexico, and U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, who is prefect of the Apostolic Signature, the Vatican's supreme tribunal.

At Angelus, Pope calls for prayers for Syria, Libya


CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI appealed for reconciliation and respect for human rights in Syria and Libya where the governments have used force to try to end pro-democracy protests.

"With deep concern, I am following the dramatic and growing episodes of violence in Syria," the pope said Aug. 7 at the end of his Angelus address to visitors gathered in the courtyard of the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo.

A government crackdown on protesters in Hama, Syria, Aug. 5 reportedly left two dozen people dead. The United Nations has said "around 2,000 people are reported to have been killed in clashes in Syria since protesters took to the streets in mid-March demanding greater civil liberties. The violent crackdown by the authorities has received widespread condemnation from the U.N., including the Security Council and top officials, as well as world leaders."


Catholic agencies part of aid campaign in Horn of Africa


LUSAKA, Zambia - Catholic agencies are reported to be among the leading organizations providing humanitarian aid to the drought- and famine-ravaged Horn of Africa.

The Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa reports that Jesuit Refugee Service, Catholic Relief Services, Caritas Ethiopia and Caritas Kenya have helped thousands of refugees in northern Kenya and internally displaced people in Somalia since the water crisis hit in November.

AMECEA spokesman Fr. Chrisantus Ndaga told Catholic News Service that Catholic humanitarian agencies also have worked in Djibouti and Ethiopia, running programs that address agricultural and water needs.

Jesuits sell seventh-century St. Cuthbert Gospel for $14.7 million


LONDON - The Jesuits have sold the historic St. Cuthbert Gospel — believed the oldest intact book produced in Europe — to the British Library for $14.7 million (U.S.).

The British Province of the Society of Jesus agreed to sell the late seventh-century Anglo-Saxon manuscript to raise funds to help fund Jesuit schools in London and Glasgow, Scotland, pay for a new school to be founded in Africa and pay for the restoration of the 19th century Church of St. Peter, Stonyhurst, the parish that serves Stonyhurst College in Lancashire, England.

The book, a pocket-size Latin translation of the Gospel of St. John, was found inside the coffin of St. Cuthbert, bishop of Lindisfarne, when the saint's grave was opened in 1104. Experts believe the manuscript was placed inside the casket within 10 years of the hermit's death in 687.

Jesuit Father Kevin Fox, spokesman for the British Province of the Society of Jesus, announced the sale of the Gospel in a statement in July.

Car bombs planted in front of Iraqi churches


VATICAN CITY - A car bomb exploded outside a Syrian Catholic church in the northern Iraq city of Kirkuk leaving at least 20 people injured.

The early morning attack Aug. 2 was the first time the Holy Family Syrian Catholic Church had been a target, Vatican Radio said.

Police defused two other car bombs — one in front of a Christian school and another in front of a Presbyterian church.

Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk told Vatican Radio that the blast set nearby cars on fire and damaged not only the church, but also about 30 surrounding homes. Most of those injured were in their homes at the time of the blast.

The archbishop said he visited the injured in the hospital.

"It's terrible," he said, as both Christians and Muslims were wounded in the attack. Many of the injured had been released by the end of the day, according to reports.

Norway shooter is against Christian, Jewish faiths as well


WASHINGTON - The man responsible for the July 22 Norway terror attacks, Anders Behring Breivik, is not only against Muslims but also anti-Jewish and anti-Christian, according to a longtime observer of Norwegian hate groups.

Breivik is at least philosophically allied with a loosely organized underground subculture of Norwegians who consider themselves "Odinists and neo-pagans," said Jeffrey Podoshen, an associate professor of marketing at Franklin & Marshall College, a liberal arts school in Lancaster, Pa. He teaches classes in business, organizations and society, and Judaic studies.

Odin is an ancient Norse god sometimes better known these days as the father of another Norse god, Thor, but in Norse mythology is associated with war, battle, victory, death, wisdom, magic, poetry, prophecy and the hunt.

This subculture, Podoshen told Catholic News Service, is "looking at Christianity as Breivik looks at Islam."

Pope calls for compassion, sharing with hungry of Africa


CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy - Christians cannot be indifferent to the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people starving in the Horn of Africa, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"It is inadmissible to be indifferent in the face of the tragedy of the hungry and thirsty," the Pope said, speaking in Polish after reciting the Angelus July 31 with pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo.

When Jesus fed the multitudes by miraculously multiplying loaves and fishes, He gave His disciples an example to follow, the Pope said.

"He encourages us to give them something to eat and to share bread with the needy. Following Christ, we must be sensitive to people's poverty," he said.

Commenting on the day's Gospel passage, the Pope said it was natural to read the story of Jesus' miracle and think of "our many brothers and sisters who, in these days, in the Horn of Africa, suffer from famine aggravated by war and the lack of solid institutions."

Pope's visit prompted new abuse allegations in Britain, church reports


MANCHESTER, England - The visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Britain and Scotland in September prompted a wave of fresh allegations of historical clerical sexual abuse, church child protection officials said.

Allegations of sexual and physical abuse against priests, religious men and women, church employees, volunteers and parishioners more than doubled in 2010 compared with the previous year, according to figures released July 28 in the 2010-11 annual report of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission.

The commission is the agency of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales that oversees child protection programs.

In all, 92 allegations of sexual and physical abuse were received in 2010 compared with 43 in 2009 and 51 in 2008.

Exactly half of the allegations were dismissed after investigations by law enforcement authorities and 41 remain under investigation, the report said. One resulted in a police warning, two in continuing court hearings and two in prison sentences, according to the report.

Busy schedule awaits Pope in Germany


VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI will address the German parliament, meet with Jewish and Muslim groups, hold a prayer vigil with youths and celebrate Mass in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium during his Sept. 22-25 visit to his homeland.

It’s a heavy schedule for the 84-year-old pope, who will preside over 28 events and deliver 17 talks during the visit. It will be his third trip to Germany since his election in 2005, but his first visit to Berlin, the German capital.

After landing in Berlin Sept. 22, the Pope will meet with government leaders, give a major speech to the federal parliament, meet with Jewish representatives and then celebrate an evening Mass in the Olympic Stadium — the facility Adolf Hitler had built for the 1936 Summer Games.

Church entities apologize for adoptions


SYDNEY - Three Catholic entities in Australia apologized “with a deep sense of regret and heartfelt sorrow” over forced adoption practices involving thousands of single mothers that occurred in past decades.

The practices involved separating unmarried mothers from their newborn babies immediately after birth and handing them to adoption agencies.

The apology came jointly from Catholic Health Australia, the largest nongovernment provider of health, community and elder care services in Australia, the Sisters of Mercy and the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, about 100 miles north of Sydney.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said in a story on its website that the apology was prompted by the news agency’s investigation into claims of abuse and trauma in Newcastle.

The story said it was believed that at least 150,000 Australian women had their babies taken against their will by some churches and adoption agencies.